The Evangelical Universalist Forum

Daniel 12:2

We know that much of Daniel’s book is concerned with the time when the Messianic kingdom would be set up. In Daniel 2:31-45, we find a general timeframe within which the coming of the kingdom of God (i.e., the commencement of the Messianic reign) would be fulfilled. There it was prophesied that, during the days of the kings of the fourth world empire in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream, the God of heaven would set up a kingdom that would “never be destroyed, nor left to another people” (v. 44). This kingdom, we later read, would be that which the Messiah would receive from God (Dan 7:13-14). Now, the kingdom that corresponds to the iron and clay feet and toes of the statue in Nebuchadnezzar’s dream is the Roman Empire. And according to the NT, it was during the rule of the Roman Caesars that Jesus Christ was born into the world (Luke 2:1; 3:1). We also know from history that the Roman Empire began to decline as a world power by the end of the second century, until it finally lost its civil and political identity as a unified dictatorship by the end of the fifth century. So if the Messianic kingdom of which the book of Daniel spoke was to be “set up” while Rome still possessed its identity as a ruling world empire, we have only a limited “window of opportunity,” so to speak, for the fulfillment of this prophecy. It had to be after the birth of the Messiah, but could not be any later than the end of the reign of the last Roman Caesar.

I submit that Daniel chapter 12 concerns this period as well; we are simply given more details as to the events that would take place at this time. The “awakenings” spoken of in verse 2 are said to take place during a “time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time” (v. 1). The expression “time of trouble” refers to a divine judgment upon a certain group of people. And the fact that we are told that this “time of trouble” would be unequaled “since there was a nation till that time” seems to indicate that the judgment in view is a national one.

Employing similar hyperbolic language (i.e., exaggeration for emphasis and effect, which was common among the Jewish people), Christ speaks of this “time of trouble” as taking place at the time of the overthrow of the nation of Israel in 70 AD: “For then shall there be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be” (Matt 24:21; cf. Luke 21:20-23). It is also said that everyone among Daniel’s “people” (i.e., the Jews) whose names were found written in “the book” would be “delivered.” Similarly, Christ told his disciples that “the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt 24:13) and, “By your endurance you will gain your lives” (Luke 21:10). During this tumultuous and distressing period in Israel’s history – unparalleled in its severity - only those Jews who believed on Christ (i.e., those who were “written in the book of life”) and heeded his words to flee the surrounding area when the opportune time came (Luke 21:21; cf. Matt 24:15-18) were delivered from the awful judgment that fell upon the nation of Israel at this time.

We are also told that it would take place around the time when the “daily sacrifice” would be “taken away,” and the “abomination that makes desolate” would appear (Daniel 11:31, 12:11; cf. 9:26-27). In Matthew 24 verses 15 and 21, Jesus quotes the book of Daniel and applies this language to those events surrounding the destruction of Israel’s capital city, Jerusalem, when the armies of Rome began to surround the city. In Luke’s account of the Olivet Discourse, we read (21:20-21): “But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation has come near.” The “abomination of desolation” refers to the pagan armies of Rome surrounding the city of Jerusalem, bent on its utter destruction (the armies of Rome being anywhere near the Temple would have been considered an “abomination” to the Jewish people; we are even told by Josephus that, after the five month siege, the armies of Rome “breached the wall, burned the temple down and worshiped Caesar at its eastern gate”). This was the sign of the imminent desolation of both the city and temple, and the complete and utter downfall of the Jewish nation.

Finally, we read that the time when all the things of which Gabriel spoke would be “finished” was when the “power of the holy people” would be “shattered” (Dan 12:7). The expression “holy people” is equivalent to “your people” in verse 2, and refers undoubtedly to the Jews. It was at the second and final overthrow of their nation by the Romans in 70 A.D. that their “power” was “shattered” (see Luke 21:24).

A few more indications that the time period in view here is the setting up of the Messianic kingdom at the close of the Jewish dispensation when the nation of Israel was overthrown and the temple destroyed are the angel’s next words to Daniel (vv. 3-4): “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever. But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.” Jesus alludes to verse 3 in Matthew 13:43 when speaking about events that would take place at the “close of the age” (v. 40) when the kingdom of God (i.e., God’s reign among his New Covenant people) was to be established in the world: “Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.” That this language need not refer to a physical change in the appearance of the righteous at this time is evidenced by what Jesus said earlier, when he told his disciples that they were “the light of the world,” and exhorted them to let their “light shine before others” (Matt 5:14-16). Similarly, Paul told the Philippians that they shone among their evil generation “as lights (or luminaries) in the world” (Phil 2:15). Jesus even called Moses a “burning and shining lamp” who, figuratively speaking, gave off “light” (John 5:35). Those who endured faithful to the end of the age in proclaiming the gospel and making converts to the faith shone as luminaries in a dark and unbelieving world when they were vindicated for their service to Christ with unfading crowns of honor and glory at the time of Christ’s coming to establish his kingdom.

We are further told that “many” would “run to and fro,” and that “knowledge” would “increase.” This increase in “knowledge” to which Gabriel refers is likely not the accumulation of scientific facts, but the spread of the truth of the gospel in the first century among the Jews and Gentiles. That is, the angel is referring to the “knowledge of the truth” by which people are “saved” (1 Tim 2:4; cf. 2 Tim 2:25). The “many” running “to and fro” refers to the apostles and their converts proclaiming the gospel throughout the world at the time leading up to the end of the Old Covenant age (Matt 24:14; Acts 24:5; Rom. 1:8, 10:18; Col. 1:6, 23). It should be noted that the word translated as “world” in these references (oikoumene) does not denote the entire inhabited planet, but simply the domain and territory of the Roman Empire (see Luke 2:1). From these verses we can see that the proclamation of the gospel throughout the world (the “great commission”) was fulfilled by 70 A.D., when the Jewish dispensation came to an end, and the Messianic kingdom was established. The logic of Paul’s argument in Romans 10:18 presupposes this conclusion as well: if the gospel had already gone out to “all the earth” (i.e., the territory of the Roman Empire) and “to the ends of the world” (i.e., the very boundaries of the “civilized world” at the time) then of course the Jewish people would have already heard it preached to them; consequently, they had no excuse for their unbelief.

I think the most forceful objection to this view of Daniel 12 is that there was no physical, bodily resurrection at the time when Jerusalem was destroyed. However, the language of the text does not demand that we understand it in this way - and I don’t think the context even allows us to understand it this way. It was not uncommon among the Hebrew people to use the word “sleep” to represent a state of spiritual stupor, sloth, despondency or death from which people were called to “awaken” (see Isaiah 29:10, 51:17, 52:1-2, 60:1; Rom. 13:11; 1 Cor. 15:34; Eph. 5:14; 1 Thess. 5:4-6; Rev. 3:1-2). Similarly, the image of “dust” was sometimes used to signify a low, subjected or degraded condition (Gen 3:14; Psalm 44:25; Job 42:6; Isaiah 25:12, 26:5, 29:4, 47:1; Nahum 3:18), and being exalted from this condition to one of honor and blessing was described as being raised from the dust, shaking oneself from the dust, or awakening from the dust (1 Sam 2:8; 1 Kings 16:2; Psalm 113:7; Isaiah 26:5, 19; 52:2). It is significant that in Ephesians 5:14 Paul combines the metaphors of “sleeping” and “awakening” that are found in Daniel 12:2 with that of being “dead” and “arising,” and applies it to circumstances taking place in his own day.

And as I’m sure most believers in UR realize, the word here translated as “everlasting” (olam) need not denote endless or “eternal” duration in an absolute sense; in most instances (I would say all instances, in fact), the word simply denotes a time period of uninterrupted, indefinite and temporal duration in this world, and embraces the entire duration of whatever subject to which it is applied. Moreover, the “everlasting life” into which the righteous “awoke” at this time is nowhere said to be an immortal existence in heaven. Instead, “everlasting life” denotes the blessing of being in the Messianic kingdom after its establishment in the world at Christ’s coming in the destruction of Jerusalem. It is contrasted with “shame and everlasting contempt” because it was this to which the unrighteous Jews “awoke” at this time in redemptive history.

In the New Testament, “eternal life” (the “life of the age”) and the “kingdom of God” are basically synonymous expressions, and were used interchangeably by Christ (see Matt 19:16-17, 23-24; 25:34, 46; Mark 9:45-47). To have the “life of the age” (or simply, “life”) is to be in the “kingdom of God,” and to be in God’s kingdom is to be in possession of this life; to inherit the kingdom of God is the same as entering into “the life of the age” (Matt 25:34, 46). That this “life” (i.e., an inheritance in the kingdom of God) is a spiritual blessing that may be enjoyed before the literal resurrection of the dead is evident from Christ’s words in John chapter 6. In v. 40 Christ declares, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” Thus, “everlasting life” is not to be understood as being the blessing of those who are literally raised from the dead. Instead, it is a blessing that can be enjoyed by people throughout the entire duration of the Messianic reign, which commenced in 70 AD and will conclude at some future time.

This is good stuff, Aaron. I think this also fits neatly with the scriptural idea that Christ’s reign must end at the point that He has put down all opposition, when He is able to turn it all over to the Father, who will then be All in All.

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Exactly :smiley: The same kingdom which Christ received from the Father (Dan 7:13-14) is ultimately going to be delivered back to the Father (1 Cor 15:24) after all people have been brought into it.

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His Kingdom (and reign) commenced and began advancing with John the Baptist - thus said the King. John (the announcer) being the first subject - that is, believer by name and object of faith.

The hope of ‘everlasting life’ is not faith or enjoyment here - it’s the resurrection. John’s ministry lasted but a few months of eating bugs and living alone in the wilderness - he had his eye on the prize. THE blessing - The Resurrection.

Sorry for the delayed response, RanRan. I’m not sure if I understand your position. Could you elaborate some on your understanding of Daniel 12:2?

‘From the days of John the Baptist until now, the kingdom of heaven has been forcefully advancing, and forceful men lay hold of it.’ Matt 11:12

Aaron, I was commenting on your idea that Christ’s kingdom commenced in 70ad when it seems to have started with The Baptist by fiat.

If you would, explain why you think the kingdom began in 70ad and not with John.

Using Scripture logic, the Kingdom actually came when Jesus drank of the wine-vinegar on the cross and let go His Spirit.

Luke 22:18
For I tell you I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine [wine] until the kingdom of God comes.

When is the next time Jesus took a drink of wine?

John 19:30
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.

Gotcha. I think the best way to understand it is the so-called “already-but-not-yet” principle. From the days of John the Baptist to the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD, I believe a great transition was underway. The kingdom was already present in one sense, but had not yet been fully established in the world. Just as “eternal life” (or simply “life”) is spoken of in Scripture as both the present experience of first-century believers (John 3:36; 5:24; 6:47; 17:3; 20:31; Rom 6:4; 6:13; 8:6, 10; Eph 2:5-6; 1 John 3:14-15) and as a future blessing in their day (Matt 19:29; 25:46; Rom 2:7; 6:22), so it is with the Messianic kingdom. While the kingdom was, in one sense, already present in the world in the days of John and able to be entered into, it was the overthrow of Israel that signified the formal commencement or inauguration of the Messianic reign, as described in vision form in Daniel 7:13-14:

“I saw in the night visions, and behold, with the clouds of heaven there came one like a son of man, and he came to the Ancient of Days and was presented before him. And to him was given dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve him; his dominion is an everlasting dominion which shall not pass away, and his kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.”

I believe that this formal commencement of the Messianic reign which Daniel is here describing (represented by the Messiah’s “coming with the clouds of heaven” and receiving his kingdom from God) was fulfilled in history in 70 AD, and that it was at this time that the “age to come” (the age of the Messianic reign) began. Though there was one sense in which believers had already inherited the Messianic kingdom (Col 1:13), there was another sense in which they had not yet received (or were in the process of receiving) the kingdom (Heb 12:27-28). The Old Jerusalem (representing God’s reign among his Old Covenant people) had to first be overthrown/destroyed before the New Jerusalem (representing God’s reign among his New Covenant people) could descend. Similarly, just as the New Covenant was ratified by Christ’s death on the cross, we read that the Old Covenant was, at the time the author of Hebrews was writing, still “becoming obsolete and growing old” and was “ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13), implying it had not yet vanished away. However, I believe this did take place when the Temple was destroyed.

This formal commencement of the Messianic reign is also described in Matthew 19:28: “Truly, I say to you, in the regeneration, when the Son of Man will sit on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Though some may disagree with me on this, I believe Christ was, in a literal sense, already enthroned and reigning after he ascended to heaven to sit at God’s right hand; however, here he’s speaking to his disciples about when his Messianic reign would be formally commenced, and the Messianic age began. The same idea is expressed in Matt 25:31: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne.” Once again, I believe Christ was already enthroned and reigning when he ascended into heaven, but Christ is here speaking about the formal commencement of his reign over the nations. I believe this formal commencement of the Messiah’s reign over the earth is also described in Rev 11:15: “Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, ‘The kingdom of this world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he shall reign for the ages of the ages.’”

But again, I do think that the Messianic kingdom was present in the days of John in the sense that its foundation was being laid by the prophet, and the requirements for entry were being announced. That is, John was awakening the people of Israel to the fact that an inheritance in the Messianic kingdom would not be according to ethnic or national descent, but according to one’s character (cf. Gal 5:19-23). Those who, in hopeful expectation, were repenting of their sins and being baptized, could already be said to be entering the kingdom, though it would still be almost 40 years before the formal commencement of the Messianic reign.

Hope that helps.

Yes, it helped a great deal. If one accepts The Baptist as Elijah - as both the announcer of The King (and His Kingdom) and the one who would appear before that ‘great and terrible day.’ Then the term ‘advancing’ which Christ used is enriched. Taking on the meaning of both growth in subjects (followers) and the militaristic image of moving towards battle. That dove-tails nicely with both of Christ’s missions - saving the world and bringing a sword against Israel.

That said, I do not see 70ad as the commencement (as start) of Christ’s Kingdom and His reign. What I do see is the uncontested dominion of Christ commencing (in human terms - ‘thus and so’s rule began’) and the already, by then, obsolete sacrifices coming to an end. Not to mince words - I think we can both accept “Announcement” and “Commencement” as pertaining to any king and kingdom to help us understand events.

I like “announcement.” :slight_smile: How about this: “The overthrow of Jerusalem in 70 AD was the announcement to the world that the Messianic reign had commenced.”


This is very interesting. Thanks for writing it. And your contributions to this board. I’ve learned alot from many of your posts.

Is there any specific book you would recommend that details this, just as you have pointed out here?

There is alot of weight to your conclusions based on the scriptures provided. But I would like to do more research on the subject at a later time.

Hi. A newbie here. I need to be enlightened about so much since I came from a very legalistic belief. And it built a stronghold of fear in my life. Encountered Daniel 12:2 and I got so conflicted especially that now I am clinging to God’s promise of salvation. Thank you guys.

Hi Virginia.

Regarding something eternal vs. something temporal, please see Gerry Beauchemin’s short discussion of the Hebrew word OLAM and the corresponding Greek word AION in Hope Beyond Hell here,

Also from Hope Beyond Hell :

The multitude of those sleeping in the dust of the ground do awake, some to life age-during [olam], and some to reproaches—to abhorrence age-during [olam] (Da. 12:2 YLT).

Regarding this Daniel passage, what has been said regarding Mt. 25:46 in chapter one also applies here; but for argument’s sake, let’s assume Da. 12 supports an eternal hell. Consider that in my 842 page Bible, Da. 12:2 does not occur until page 791! Thus, we are not introduced to the idea of unending punishment until 94 percent of the Bible has been read! In a three year Bible reading plan, that would not occur until the 937th day, after two years and seven months have passed! How many people have tried to read the Old Testament and have never got past Leviticus? If the doctrine were true, would God not have made it known from the very beginning?

Look at it this way. Daniel was written about 535 B.C. compared to 1450-1406 B.C. for the Pentateuch (the first five books of the Old Testament). Some say Adam was created about 2,000 years before Abraham who was born in 2166 BC. This means God’s people did not have a ‘proof’ text (if it is such) for everlasting punishment until about 3,500 years from Adam or 900 years from Moses! Can you imagine? How can one explain such silence when the Old Testament is filled with warnings of temporal judgments?

And regarding Matthew 25:46, here’s something I shared elsewhere in this forum:

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Great article Aaron. It answered so many questions. I only have a question left.

How is Daniel 12. 2 referred to in the NT? Any verses that could apply that verse to the final resurrection like John 5.28-29 for example?

In “Four views on Hell” this is what Denny Burk says: Jesus clearly alludes to Daniel’s prophecy to describe the final resurrection of all people in John 5: 28–29: “Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment.” So either by original sense or by implication, Daniel 12: 2–3 describes what ultimately happens to all people at the final judgment after they die.

Hi Andre and welcome. :grinning:

Aaron’s article is a near 10yr old post but still an excellent one. :clap:

Keeping within the fulfilled framework as ably demonstrated in Aaron’s work above Dan 12:2 and Jn 5:25, 28-29 are indeed indelibly linked.

As I understand it… NT resurrection was more about the fulfillment of Israel’s spiritual or covenantal transformation, aka renewal — as promised of old in Ezek 37:1-14. This long-awaited… ‘restitution of all things’ (Acts 3:21, 24) was Israel’s ‘good news’ i.e., ‘the gospel.’ NT believers in that 40yr AD30-70 transitional generation (Mt 23:36; 24:34) were undergoing in that age of resurrection transformation in terms of ‘putting off the old’ while simultaneously ‘putting on the new’ — Paul’s epistles cover much of this. As part of this resurrection, Paul writes…

Phil 3:16 Nevertheless, to the degree that we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule, let us be of the same mind.

That which was already in the process of attainment was Israel’s covenant renewal, i.e., resurrection, of which many gentiles were joining, e.g., Eph 2:11-13 etc. We already know from Romans 6 that their ‘death, burial and resurrectiondid not require a literal 1:1 correlation with Christ’s experience for such to be their true and enduring reality. This then also is the self-same already occurring resurrection of which Jesus spoke in chapter 5 of John’s gospel…

Jn 5:25 Most assuredly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear will live.

The firstfruits righteous of Israel having ‘ears to hear’ were responding in faith in Jesus’ now is time and were being raised in Christ — the rest of unrighteous Israel who didn’t respond in-kind (vs. 29) came to suffer the condemning consequence of shame in AD70 in terms of death or deportation, as per…

Dan 12:2 OG And many of those asleep in the flat of the earth will arise, some to everlasting life but others to shame and others to dispersion [and contempt] everlasting. NETS translation

Thus as I understand it… Daniel encompasses both aspects of Israel’s resurrection… the coming covenant renewal in Jesus and the final consummating resurrection in Jesus; or as Paul writes…

Acts 24:15 “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there is about to be (μέλλειν) a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust.

Aaron also makes this interesting comment…

This second and final overthrow of OC Israel when… “all these things shall be finished” as per Dan 12:7, cf Lk 21:22, I understand to be what St. John of Revelation describes in terms of Israel’s “lake of fire” aka “the second death.

Hope that helps